Criminal Defense LawyerLakeland, Tampa, Lutz, FL

Tampa FL Street Racing Teens Cause Mother & Infant Vehicular Homicide

Tragic accident, mother and infant killed on Tampa’s exclusive Bayshore Boulevard by racing teenagers. What is vehicular homicide and how many years in prison are the recent high school grads facing?
Just days after graduating from high school, teenagers were racing their cars, one a brand new Mustang, down Tampa’s picturesque and exclusive Bayshore Boulevard. Tragically, while racing down the street, a mother was pushing her infant in a stroller across the street to get to the sidewalk that runs all along Tampa Bay when she was struck by the teenage motorist and died. Sadly, the infant died days later.
The driver, who just graduated from high school, is now facing two counts of Vehicular Homicide which is punishable under Florida Statute 782.071 and defines “Vehicular homicide” as the killing of a human being caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another. Vehicular homicide is a felony of the second degree which is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.
Because two individuals were killed, there is a count for each person. Charging the driver with a count for each person does not violate the Double Jeopardy clause of the U.S. and Florida Constitutions even though it was due to a single accident or act of driving. The reason it does not violate Double Jeopardy is due to the fact that each charge has a separate element, the victim, that must be proven for each count. Because the element of who is the victim is different, the mom and infant, they are separate and distinct crimes.
How does that effect the Scoresheet and Sentencing guidelines? Vehicular Homicide is a Level 7 offense. That scores the first count of Vehicular Homicide at 56 points. The other count is considered an “Additional Offense” for Scoresheet purposes and scores 28 points. Each death will score “Victim Injury Points” of 120 points for a total of 240 points. Remember, each Scoresheet point basically equates to a month in prison, so every time there are death points, that adds up to 10 years in prison (120 points divided by 12 months in a year = 10 years Florida State Prison).
The driver will be facing other charges, but keeping it simple, he has 56 + 28 + 240 points for a total of 324 points. The “Sentence Computation” under the guidelines takes total, subtracts 28 points, and multiplies by 0.75 for a “Lowest Permissible Prison Sentence” of 222 months in Florida State Prison. Divided by 12 months in a year and that equals 18.5 years prison.
This will be a difficult case for everyone. It was a tragic loss and a young driver planning to attend college with his whole life ahead of him has to live with his devastating actions. So does it mean he will go be sentenced to 18.5 years in prison? Street racing in a residential neighborhood with turns and known for many pedestrians and bikers, will be seen as Reckless Driving to many jurors and a tough case to defend. However, there is a lot of mitigation that could be done in this case to negotiate a plea to a lesser sentence. The driver could also be sentenced as a Youthful Offender which caps the prison time at 6 years. The victim’s family will have a large say in what an appropriate sentence will be. There are other statutory reasons to mitigate a sentence available to the driver in this unfortunate case. It will take some time before the case is resolved.
When the outcome of a criminal arrest can affect your freedom and life, it is important for you to have someone on your side fighting for you in court!
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Thomas C. Grajek 863-838-5549

Categories: Criminal Defense
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